Washington, D.C. – The Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing, the leading national group representing employers, unions, health insurance providers and other stakeholders, launched its second multi-million dollar digital and TV advertising campaign to urge policymakers to protect consumers from surprise medical bills, particularly from medical practices owned by private equity firms that have created this nationwide affordability crisis.
The latest campaign – featuring two new TV ads, “Behind the Curtain” and “Barber Shop” – kicks off inside the Beltway as Congress looks to pass federal protections against the exorbitant, unfair charges from out-of-network providers. Both ads highlight the shadowy role of private equity firms across emergency rooms and specialty services – and the business practices they use to exploit patients who see out-of-network providers at in-network facilities.
Many private equity firms and out-of-network providers have pushed Congress to establish a new federally mandated arbitration proposal that would allow them to continue charging patients sky-high prices for medical services. Arbitration would result in unwanted bureaucracy and complexity across the health system, and policy experts estimate that it would impose roughly $1 billion in additional costs.
To protect patients from these exorbitant charges and to lower costs for consumers, employers and taxpayers, it’s critical that Congress advance reforms that would establish a local, market-based benchmark to ensure patients and consumers benefit from negotiated, competitive rates that reflect that actual cost of medical care in their communities – and not an inflated price demanded by private equity firms. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that a benchmark approach to ending surprise medical bills would reduce the federal deficit by $25 billion over the next decade.
The Coalition, as well as leading unions, consumer groups, employers and policy experts, have endorsed the benchmark provision as the best way to end surprise medical billing. This benchmark provision and other critical safeguards were included as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019 that was voted out of the Senate HELP Committee (20-3) this summer. As Congress works to protect consumers from surprise medical billing, it’s essential that these reforms are maintained as part of the final federal legislation.
Let’s keep private equity out of the ER and work on real solutions that save money for patients and hardworking taxpayers.